Comparison – Gasoline – Acetylene – Plasma

Metal cutting is a common step involved with many welding-related jobs, whether the application is in the fabrication shop or on a jobsite. Historically cutting was with Oxy Acetylene, then Plasma became an option to consider.  Now we add to the choices Oxy Gasoline.

Propane flame temperature in oxygen is 2,828°C  compared to 3,160°C for acetylene consequently a slower heating up of the item to be cut.  Also piercing is much slower but as the burning and slag formation are actioned by the oxygen jet, once the steel is heated cutting speeds are about the same with Propane as for acetylene.

Propane has a markedly greater oxygen requirement than acetylene so the volume of oxygen to fuel gas are 1.2 to 1 for acetylene and 4.3 to 1 for propane.  (Uses  a lot more oxygen cutting with propane)

Gasoline flame temperature at 3000 degrees is much closer to Acetylene flame temperature so similar heating time but a gasoline vapour flame has considerably more punch due to its being 4 times the density of a gaseous flame like propane  or acetylene.  Oxygen use with gasoline is up to 30% LESS than with acetylene

We believe we have established above the clear superiority of Gasoline cutting vs Acetylene cutting so now we will just consider the pros and cons of Plasma and Gasoline cutting

Plasma Basics and When to Consider Using the Process

Plasma cutters are used to perform cutting and gouging operations, with the average hand-held system capable of cutting a maximum metal thickness of about 1 inch. Plasma typically requires a source of compressed air and a substantial amount of electrical power. These factors are issues to consider when the application requires portability.

One of plasma’s advantages is its ability to cut non-ferrous metals such as aluminum, stainless steel and cast iron. Faster speeds can be achieved on thinner metals with plasma, with minimal or no metal distortion.

Gasoline Cutting

Oxy-Gasoline torches have a leg up when it comes to cutting thicker metals, and they can offer greater portability in certain situations. Oxy-Gasoline torches also offer versatility, as they are capable of cutting, welding, brazing, soldering, heating and gouging. The average hand-held system can cut steel up to 12 inches thick. DAVCO’s Oxy-Gasoline tools are not dependent on a primary power or compressed air source, so it can offer advantages for jobs that require a high degree of portability so it is possible to cut steel almost anywhere.

For thicker steels of more than 1 inch, oxy-fuel torches are capable of greater cutting speeds when compared to typical plasma cutting systems. Also, certain operations are exclusive to oxy-gasoline systems, including welding of ferrous metals, heat treating, heat shaping, riser cutting, soldering and brazing.

Additional Pros and Cons of Each Process

DAVCO Oxy-Gasoline torches are available in extended lengths to keep the operator at a distance from the heat and flames while cutting. The use of long hoses (or backpack systems) allows greater portability than is afforded by a plasma cutter, which requires electrical power and a compressed air source. Oxy-Gasoline torches are most commonly used with 30-foot hoses, though torch hoses of up to 100 feet may be used.

Plasma cutting systems can offer benefits for cutting thinner ferrous and non-ferrous metals, including shaped metals — angles, channels and tubes, for example. Plasma cutters also are better able to cut large volumes of thin sheet metal.

Cost Considerations Will Also Come into Play When Making the Decision.

The initial investment in plasma machines is often more expensive than other cutting methods. A typical hand-held plasma cutting unit will cost about 3 or more times that of a Gasoline cutting system. The cost of electricity also must be considered when using plasma.

An oxy-Gasoline cutting outfit will cost less with long life replacement cutting tips costing between $10 and $20. There also is the ongoing cost associated with refilling the oxygen cylinders and gasoline.

Consider the Uses, Benefits

Two important questions to ask when choosing between plasma and Gasoline cutting tools are: what needs to be cut on a day-to-day basis, and what is the thickest metal that will need to be cut? If the job consistently requires cutting thicker metals, the time and money saved by quickly cutting through thick metal with an oxy-gasoline system makes a difference. On the flip side, if precision cutting of stainless steel and aluminum is important, a plasma arc system is the way to go.  However if versatility is important and you want to Cut, Weld, Heat, Braze etc there is only one choice DAVCO SupaCut !

Both systems have their place in most metal-processing applications, and many operations will benefit from having both systems in their arsenal.